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Stewards make right calls

Real Solution DQ 615 X 400
Photo: Four Footed Fotos
It was a weekend of high profile racing across North America with Grade 1 stakes races being contested from the Eastern Seaboard to the Midwest to the West Coast. Purses worth up to a $1 million were on the line, but awarding those purses to the correct winner was not always an easy task. There were many runaway winners, but there were also photo finishes and inquiries to sort through. When the dust settled after a fantastic weekend of racing, some horsemen were on top of the world while others were shaking their heads in disgust.
 
 
The disqualifying action began on Wednesday at Del Mar in the feature race, the Green Flash Handicap, a five furlong turf sprint for 3-year olds and up. Post time favorite Distinctiv Passion tried his very best to take the field wire-to-wire but began to drift out in deep stretch under left-handed urging. As he drifted out, he bumped Strong Wind causing jockey Gary Stevens to steady him, giving Sirocco Strike the opportunity to slip up and steal second place by a head.
 
 
After reviewing the film, the Del Mar stewards disqualified Distinctiv Passion for interference and placed him third. Sirocco Strike was given the win, and Strong Wind was moved up to second. The top 3 finishers were separated by less than a length as they hit the wire, and Distinictiv Passion’s interference cost his owners $45,120, the difference in purse money between 1st and 3rd.
 
 
 
The very next day, the feature race was again subjected to the stewards’ scrutiny. Race 7 at Del Mar on Thursday was a NW1$X for three-year olds and up going 1 3/8 mile on the turf. Ten horses and geldings showed up to contest the race, which awarded a nice $60,000 to the winner, and with such a competitive field across the board, odds were nice as bettors could not decide on a clear cut favorite. As the field went to post, the tote board showed that Vibrato Jazz had won favoritism at odds of 3-1. During the stretch drive, it looked as though the bettors had gotten it right until the gray colt began to drift out under steady left-handed urging with a sixteenth to go. To the colt’s outside, Affrettado was closing furiously but had to check as Vibrato Jazz’s outward drifting impeded his forward progress.
 
 
The Del Mar stewards deliberated the results for what seemed like forever. As they deliberated, calracing.com showed replays of the race from the side, from the head-on angle, and from the back. Even though Vibrato Jazz was my pick for the race, even I had to admit that he deserved to come down after shifting out so drastically. Before the stewards even made it official, I knew he would be disqualified and placed second, and minutes later, the stewards confirmed my suspicions. At 14-1, Affrettado paid his happy backers $30.20/$12.20/and $6.60. The cost in purse money for Vibrato Jazz’s connections? A cool $44,660, the difference between the win and place money.
 
 
 
Two days later and some 2,000 miles to the east, the G1 Arlington Million was decided in the stewards’ booth for the third time since 2003. In large fields, some bumping and knocking is to be expected, but The Apache took things to a whole new level during the stretch drive. The South African invader found himself with a clear lead right past the midstretch point, but Real Solution was closing furiously on his outside. As the Ramsey owned colt drew on even terms with The Apache, the latter drifted out, repeatedly bumping his foe in a bid to keep the lead. At one point, Real Solution had his nose in front, but the steady bumping and outward pushing eventually cost him, and The Apache crossed the wire a head in front.
 
 
Immediately following the race, Alan Garcia, Real Solution’s jockey, lodged a protest against Christophe Soumillon, The Apache’s jockey. After a long deliberation, the Arlington stewards disqualified The Apache and placed him second for interference. Soumillon attempted to excuse away The Apache’s outward drifting by asserting that The Apache had been scared by the screen which had caused him to shift out. That might have held up if Soumillon had made any effort to correct The Apache; however, Soumillon was steadily using left-handed urging and never made an attempt to pull The Apache back to the inside until after they had crossed the wire. For The Apache’s connections, it was a $372,000 decision, or the difference between first and second prize.
 
 
Many racing fans cried foul over this decision, some even going as far as to declare that the disqualification had more to do with Real Solution’s connections than any actual interference in the race itself. To that I would say simply watch the head-on replay and you’ll see that the stewards made the right call.
 
 
 
Sunday’s G2 Lake Placid Stakes for 3-year old fillies traveling 1 1/8 mile on the turf wrapped up the weekend of races decided in the stewards’ room rather than on the track. Long shot Nellie Cashman upset the G3 Virginia Oaks in her previous start at odds of 19-1, and for the second consecutive race, again upset a solid field when crossing the wire first in the Lake Placid at odds of 20-1. This time, however, her win did not stand. A head-on view of the stretch run showed Nellie Cashman first lugging out, then drifting back in, and then lugging out once again despite being urged forward under a right-handed whip.
 
 
Javier Castellano, the jockey aboard 3rd place finisher Watsdachances, lodged a complaint following the race due to his mount being carried out and then crowded between horses. After conducting an inquiry, the Saratoga stewards took down Nellie Cashman and placed her third for interference. Second place finisher Caroline Thomas was awarded the win, and Watsdachances was bumped from third to second. Rosie Napravnik, who was aboard the official winner, stated after the race that though she and her mount were somewhat involved in the incident, she was confident that they weren’t coming down because she was certain they had kept a straight path. The cost to Nellie Cashman’s connections was $100,000, the difference between first and third prize.
 
 
 
Too often stewards make calls that fans don’t understand or are inconsistent from track to track or even from day to day. Horses are left up that should be taken down, and sometimes, horses are taken down that should have been left up. However, the stewards across the country were spot on and consistent this week. In four different races at three different tracks, the same situation cropped up and the same decision was made each time. The unofficial winner drifted out impeding rivals and was consequently penalized for interference. Out of those four races, I had no dog in the fight for two of them, was on the losing end of the Vibrato Jazz decision, and was on the winning side of the decision concerning The Apache. Regardless of how or if it affected me, I agreed with the stewards each time, and this horse racing fan, for one, was extremely pleased to see some consistency in race calling. 

 

What the Nation is saying about Stewards make right calls...

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I don't know if Rosie would have lodged an objection if Javier hadn't done so, and I believe we're just going to have to agree to disagree on whether or not it was the correct call. However, from a consistency standpoint, it was the same call made in the other 3 races for the same situation. Whether or not you agree with the call, you have to appreciate the consistency.
I think Nellie's Cashman's DQ was the wrong call. She may have drifted out badly, but the outcome of the race was not impacted. Bad call. I do agree with The Apache's DQ. That was a dirty ride. Soumillon veered his ride in and almost caused a spill at the top of the stretch. He was lucky to be DQ'd only to second.
I watched the stretch run a dozen times, there was no contact! Yes, NC did lug out & in but that would not have changed the result. The stewards decision changed the result. From my perspective when there is no contact AND the result would not have been different anyway, the stewards should leave the result alone. And WTH was Rosie gonna lodge an objection for? She just ran out of track.
Whatsdachances might have already been beaten, but there was contact between the top 3 finishers that was initiated by Nellie Cashman, who was all over the track. Caroline Thomas might have nipped Nellie at the wire, however, but in a post-race interview, Rosie stated that she was glad Javier lodged the protest because she didn't want to have to do so on account of her friendship with Forest.
There may have been factors (described by the riders) that we are not privy to
Tom Harrison,do not know if you follow Ny racing all that much.After the take down which i thought was not warrented in the 2yo stake(it helped me a lot,they put up a 16-1 shot) . i posted that the NY stewards are known as the 3 blind mice for their inconsistent rulings.I feel for that take down.Hard enough to pick a winner,then nail a huge price.Only to have some ex pin heads take it away from you.
The DQ was completely wrong on Nellie Cashman. There was no contact between the horses and whatsdachances was clearly beaten. Cost me the super!!!! I've seen way worse result in no change. I felt it was bias against Forest Boyce and favoritism for Rosie & Javier
Which race are you referring to, EP?
Not at Finger Lakes :)
Not at Finger Lakes :)\
Nellie Cashman's jockey Forest Boyce has been slapped with a 3-day suspension for her ride in the G2 Lake Placid. Dettori was given the mount on Shea Shea in this weekend's G1 Nunthorpe Stakes due to a suspension Christophe Soumillon (The Apache's jockey) picked up recently in France.

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